Genesis 49

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As we approach the end of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we also approach the end of the life of Jacob. It was he who had his name changed to Israel after a wrestling match with The Blessed One. It was he who carried the Blessing on after this father Isaac. It was he who would go on to birth twelve sons – who would all become the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Here, in chapter 49, we see Jacob gather his sons together and pronounce a blessing upon each of them. This blessing was much more than simply a gesture of goodwill – it was a prophetic pronouncement of what each had in store for them as they continue carrying the Blessing as a nation.

As we continue our trip through the early stages of human history as recorded in God’s Word, we will see how these simple words uttered by Jacob on his death bed will come to fruition in the lives of not only his sons, but the generations that follow them. Each son would go on to birth a portion of the nation of Israel – with it’s joint responsibilities and strengths/weaknesses. What an honor it is for us to be able to watch it all unfold!

Let’s take a moment and briefly list each son, along with a few details about their individual blessing, and also highlight some of their famous descendants who are to come upon the scene in the years to follow. Obviously – the full nature and power of what Jacob is saying would take much more beyond the limits of the blog to study. But we can touch on a few parts to keep us on track with the overall theme – The Blessing.

  1. Reuben (1) – Reuben is Jacob’s firstborn – and typically would be the next leader of the family, entitled to a double portion of the inheritance and full authority of his father as Priest and King. But, as Jacob explains, Reuben forfeited this right when he had unnatural relations with Jacob’s concubine, Bilhah (Gen 35:22). Although Jacob had forgiven his son, there is still a consequence for sin… and Reuben’s consequence was the loss of his rightful inheritance.
  2. Simeon (2) – As second oldest, naturally we would assume Simeon would gain the inheritance Reuben lost. But as Jacob explains – that is not the case as well. He is grouped with his next younger brother, Levi, as unfit due to their actions against the males of Shechem in defense of their sister, Dinah (Gen 34). (Famous Descendent: Zimri, who would attempt to lead the people into sinful rebellion in Numbers 25).
  3. Levi – Along with Simeon, Levi was denied the prerogatives of the firstborn. But, he was given a portion of the leadership that would have befallen on Reuben, that of Priest. It was the Tribe of Levi which would function as the nation’s priests in the future. Prophetically, this reflected much in what Jacob said, as this tribe would not own their own land – but would be dependent on their brother’s tithe for compensation. Many times Levi is left out of the count of the Twelve Tribes of Israel due to their unique job description. (Famous Descendant: Korach, who also attempts to lead a rebellion in Numbers 16).
  4. Judah (3) – After sternly rebuking his three oldest sons, Jacob finally announces the full rights of the birthright upon Judah. It is Judah who will carry the title of “King”. He will be acknowledged by his brothers and will be the source of Jewish leadership, royalty, and the Messianic Lineage. Quotes such as “The scepter shall not depart from Judah” and “He will tie his donkey to the vine”, (not to mention the promise of abundant wine) all point towards the future coming of Jesus through this Tribe. It is through Jesus that so much prosperity will come that a single vine will produce as many grapes as a donkey can carry. (Famous Descendant: King David, and of course, Jesus).
  5. Zebulun (4) – Although Issachar is older, Zebulun is mentioned first as future sea-faring merchants. In fact, the tribe of Zebulun would eventually settle in the area of Galil,right between the Sea of Kinerath and the Mediterranean.
  6. Issachar (5) – Known for deep study of the Torah, the Tribe of Issachar would become one of the spiritual pillars of the future nation. They would produce the 200 heads of the Sanhedrin listed in 1 Chron. 12:32.
  7. Dan (6) – Finishing with the 6 sons of Leah, Jacob moves to the eldest of Rachel’s maidservant – Bilah’s sons, Dan. Much of what Jacob has to say about Dan is assumed to be speaking prophetically about one of his major descendants, Samson. It was Samson who would amass the single-handed harassment of the Philistines – as we shall read in Judges chapter 16. (Famous Descendant: Samson)
  8. Gad (7) – Next Jacob blessed Leah’s maidservants Zilpah’s eldest son, Gad. During the conquering of the Promised Land, it would be the Tribe of Gad which would continue to help his fellow tribes, despite his territory being cleared.
  9. Asher (8) – It is from Zilpah’s second son, Asher, that the abundant produce of olives would come for the nation of Israel. Future king’s would seek these delicacies out of the land of Asher.
  10. Naphtali (9) – Concluding the son’s of his maidservants, Jacob blesses Naphtali. The Tribe of Naphtali would be swift in battle as well as it’s land abundant in crops.
  11. Joseph – Finally, Jacob blesses the two sons of his wife, Rachel. He acknowledges the key role Joseph played in the rescue of the entire family from the famine and their preservation in Egypt. He also speaks of Joseph as a true leader over the family due to his current power as Vicar of Egypt. It is with that honor that Jacob blesses both of the sons of Joseph – Manasseh (10) and Ephraim (11). In essence, Jacob blesses Joseph with a double portion – which is effectively split between his two sons. Most of the time both of these sons are listed as part of the 12 Tribes. It is through the lineage of Joseph that God will miraculously provide for Israel many more times in the future.
  12. Benjamin (12) – The final blessing of Jacob is for his final son. Known as a fierce warrior, Benjamin would birth several famous descendants in the history of his tribe. Namely King Saul, the first king of Israel – tall and warrior-like… as well as Queen Esther and Mordecai.

So that is the official blessing of the 12 sons of Jacob – who would grow to become the Twelve Tribes which make up the nation of Israel. As we shall see, these blessings point towards future strengths and weaknesses which will help steer the people both towards God and away from God at various times.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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Genesis 47

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Our story continues…

Another famine… and another opportunity for God’s people to be an example to the world of the Blessing in operation! This time we have seen Jacob and his 11 sons come to the amazing realization that their brother Joseph is indeed alive and well – not just well, but has risen to second in command over all of Egypt! Beyond that – the Wisdom and Blessing of the Lord has aided Joseph in setting up Egypt into a position of power in the known world. They control the food – when the world around them is starving. That is how the Blessing works!

Eventually Joseph reveals who he really is to his brothers… and they all come to realize that God has been working behind the scenes on their behalf. What Satan meant for evil (through the actions of his brothers) – God turned around for good for Joseph (and through him to his family).

In chapter 47 we see an elderly Jacob and the other sons finally reunited with Joseph in Egypt. Joseph uses his power and influence to fully provide for Jacob and the rest of the family during what is again referred to as a “severe” famine. Because of the Blessing at work in the lives of God’s people – what was set up as a disaster and defeat by the enemy has turned into the exact means of escape and provision from the Lord. Did God cause Joseph to be sold and imprisoned? No – his brothers and Potiphar’s wife did. Did God cause Jacob to go through those years of grief and heartache at the thought that his beloved son Joseph was dead? No again. But God DID orchestrate the circumstances which led to Joseph being elevated into 2nd in command and then Jacob and his family finding themselves safe and sound in Egypt. The Blessing always works for our good!

Notice near the end of the chapter – verse 27. “And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they gained possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly.” I have yet to hear many teachings on the land of Goshen… but it is a key detail in Scripture! Goshen was located in the fertile Upper Region of the Nile River – in the extreme northwest corner of Egypt. Going a bit further north would find one in Canaan (eventually Israel). Joseph encouraged his family to settle there for several reasons… one of which is that it’s soil is very rich (constantly fed by the Nile floods). As well – it is off the beaten path of the majority of the Egyptian population – hence the reference to the Egyptians distaste for shepherding. Jacob and his family would settle in one of the most valuable areas of Egypt – yet removed enough from the rest of the population to prevent them from adopting too much of the surrounding culture (and forgetting who they were!).

Also, look again at Gen 47:27 – notice what happens to the Israelites during the famine? Things are so bad that the Egyptian people were selling off everything they owned to survive… yet God’s people are “growing and multiplying exceedingly”. What was the Blessing spoken over Abraham – Issac – and Jacob? To “Be Fruitful and Multiply!”. Even in Egypt – a foreign land – during a severe famine… God is providing for His people. The Blessing is at work and they are living as an example to the world.

There is no reason why you and I cannot live in the land of Goshen during the worst economic times the world faces. We are under the same Blessing that Jacob and his 12 sons were under. As always – the choice to live there in obedience or not is up to us. Obey like Joseph and be rescued – or disobey like the brothers and find ourselves starving.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Genesis 41

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Genesis Chapter 41… we are continuing to see the hand of God work behind the scenes on behalf of His blessed people. Joseph – the second youngest son of Jacob (Israel) has been mistreated by his jealous brothers and finds himself sold to Potiphar, a high ranking official in Egypt. Joseph has every opportunity to get angry, blame God, whatever – yet instead he just keeps trusting in the Lord to provide. What a great lesson that is for us!

Joseph interprets dreams. He assists Pharaoh’s butler as he is returned to the place he held before. Joseph asks the butler to remember him – yet, once he is out of the difficult situation, the butler forgets all about Joseph and his kindness toward him.

So Joseph waits… and finds favor…

Then Pharaoh dreams – and Joseph is presented with the opportunity he was been waiting for. The butler remembers Joseph, and Pharaoh asks for his dreams to be interpreted. The end result is that Joseph is brought out of the depths of the prison and elevated to the second in power in the whole nation of Egypt. Only God could have done something that amazing! All Joseph had to do was listen, trust, and stand in faith on what God had said.

So Joseph becomes a main voice of power for the most powerful nation on earth. Because he walks under the anointing of the Blessing, he succeeds in everything he puts his hand to. The Wisdom of the Lord goes before him, helping him make the best choices for any situation. Because of the Blessing in Joseph’s life – many other people will prosper as well. The entire nation of Egypt (who worship pagan god’s) will prosper as well – all as a result of Joseph’s obedience to the word of the Lord. Not only Egypt – but the entire world will be saved from starvation in the famine.

God always saves His people from famines.

Next, we are told that during the years of plenty, Joseph gets married and has two sons. (Interestingly Joseph marries the daughter of a Priest for a foreign cult). Joseph names the first born Manasseh and he names the younger Ephraim. As first born, Manasseh has the rights to a double portion of the blessing on Joseph’s life…

But the very name of the second born “Ephraim” should alert us that something different is happening here. The word “Ephraim” means “double fruitfulness”. Remember the Blessing spoken through Abraham, Issac, Jacob and down through Joseph? It was “Be Fruitful and Multiply!”. Now, here we see that same Blessings being once again passed on through Joseph and into his youngest son. Why the youngest? Why isn’t the first born named a “double fruitfulness”? This will make sense as we continue along.

The twelve son’s of Jacob become the 12 Tribes that make up the Nation of Israel. They are all included under the Blessing… but not all of them walk under that Promise. As a result – we will see much heartache and pain by these poor choices. In the same way – we are all descendants of this family… and our choices can either place us under the power of the Blessing – or remove us from it and place us in the position of curses.

I don’t know about you… but I want the double fruit of Ephraim!

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Genesis 39

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As we continue to trace the Blessing throughout the lives of the family of Abraham – we reach young Joseph. The last of the twelve sons of Jacob, Joseph was the apple of his father’s eye. Jacob loved him and treated him as such. (Truthfully, all of Jacob’s sons were entitled to the same treatment as Joseph – yet surprisingly the other 11 chose to be hateful and judgmental – while Joseph simply loved and walked in the favor of his father… just like you and I today!).

As we read through Chapter 37 we see Joseph going out to deliver a message to his brothers from his father. While Joseph isn’t angry with how they have been treating him (choosing to not walk in strife), his brothers are jealous of the favor over their younger siblings life. (Remember the Philistines in Genesis 26:14?) The eleven brothers choose to attack Joseph – beat him – and throw him in a hole.

But God is watching… and His Blessing is on Joseph.

The Midianite and Ishmaelite caravan just happened to come along at that precise moment – giving the brothers opportunity to sell Joseph instead of leaving him in that hole to die. Then Joseph just happened to be sold to Potiphar, the Egyptian officer in Pharaoh’s court and captain of the guard. God was working for Joseph… as Joseph walked in the Blessing. He didn’t get mad – he didn’t strike out against his brothers – he simply trusted God.

By the time we reach Chapter 39 we see the effects of the Blessing on the life of Joseph – even as a slave. “But the Lord was with Joseph, and he [though a slave] was a successful and prosperous man;” – Gen 39:2 Remember – it wasn’t God who sold Joseph into slavery – it was his brothers. God was working on Joseph’s behalf.

Because of the Favor of the Lord on Joseph – all of Potiphar’s household began to prosper (vs 3). So Potiphar puts Joseph in charge of everything – with no direct supervision! That shows how evident the Blessing was in Joseph’s work – that Potiphar didn’t even need to check up on him! “From the time that he made him supervisor in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the Lord’s blessing was on all that he had in the house and in the field.” – Gen 39:5 Because of Joseph – Potiphar prospered.

But Satan doesn’t give up easily… He hates God, hates the Blessing, and hates us who are receiving that Blessing.

So Potiphar’s wife begins to try and entice Joseph to sin. She works overtime to try and seduce him, but Joseph knows what she doesn’t. Obviously Joseph has been taught by Jacob that sin will kill. Even the small, seemingly insignificant sins can interrupt the Blessing in our lives and thwart what God wants to do in us and through us. Even when alone – Joseph chooses to walk in obedience to the Lord – because the Blessing his more valuable then the fleeting pleasure of sin.

In the end we see that Potiphar’s wife lies and Joseph is thrown into prison. But what does Joseph DO while in prison? He could have chosen to go the route most of us would have… complained about his situation, asked God “Why is this happening to me?”. Perhaps he could have even blamed God in his “Sovereignty” for allowing this unfortunate series of events to place him in prison. (God must be teaching me something!).

Joseph didn’t do any of those things. Instead – he kept obeying God, kept trusting Him, kept walking as a Blessed Man – believing he is Fruitful and will Multiply in anything he does. Because of that stance of faith, even in the midst of difficult circumstances, God worked on Joseph’s behalf.

But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy and loving-kindness and gave him favor in the sight of the warden of the prison” – Gen 39:21

Because of the Blessing at work in Joseph’s life – empowered by the steps of obedience that Joseph walked in – the prison warden ends up placing Joseph in charge over the entire prison! THAT is what happens when a man or woman of God conducts their life under God’s rule and makes choices of obedience to His Word.

Like Abraham, Issac, and Jacob – Joseph walked under the Blessing of the Lord… ‘Be Fruitful and Multiply!’. As he walked in obedience to the Lord – resisting the temptation to sin – the Lord worked behind the scenes on his behalf… and it was well for him. He trusted in the Word of Blessing spoken over him through his great-grandfather… and he was successful in all he did.

You and I are no different then Joseph…

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Genesis 34

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The Bible – although following several main themes of Grace, Mercy, and Reconciliation – also has woven within it a host of sub-themes. Like threads, they all work together to create the beautiful tapestry of the Word of God. When we study God’s Word we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these Truths… and this is a life-time endeavor! Where a single verse can say one thing (and be true) – at another glance it can say something much deeper (and be true as well). That is the beauty of God’s eternal Word.

With that in mind, the goal of this blog is to focus on one major overall theme – that of God’s Blessing. That doesn’t discount the other themes – it just keeps our focus singular. We ask questions such as, Where is the Blessing in this? What is the major point of this chapter? What are the results of these actions? Etc, etc.

In the past few chapters we have seen Jacob wrestle with God (and himself) as he progresses from “Deceiver” to Israel (One who wrestles with God or Truth). We have seen the results of Jacob’s deception against Esau – and then ironically we have seen the act of forgiveness in Esau towards that deception. The underlying theme: when Jacob acts on his own merit he brings calamity – mercy is in action through Esau – grace is in action through God’s continuing blessing of Jacob. Just beautiful.

Now here in Chapter 34 we see another example of the devastating effects of self-rule. Dinah (curiously listed as a “daughter of Leah”) unwisely goes out on her own into a foreign city and gets into a precarious situation. The prince of the land violates her – causing an unfortunate chain of events. The prince (Shechem) and his father (Hamor) seek to not only cover up their violation by a speedy wedding – but also to gain personally in the end. Jacob’s sons have a much different ending in mind.

A few thoughts in this: Notice Shechem’s soul-tie with Diana! Although they were not married… and Diana did not agree to the relations… the result was still a sort of “one flesh” connection. Sex was created by God to unite a man and a woman together as one… and even when that beautiful gift is distorted and used for ulterior (and selfish) motives, it continues to do what God created it to do. The power of that is evident in Shechem’s willingness to undergo the pain of circumcision to fulfill this soul-tie for Diana.

So is sex before marriage ok?

We live in a culture which has strayed so far from the Law of the Lord that they “call that which is evil, good”. But despite what the culture claims as innocent – God’s plan is still in motion. When we make choices which go against what God created we bear the unfortunate results of those choices. Hamor, Shechem and the men of the city experienced the devastating effects of sin. Should this be blamed on God or those who made such a choice?

That Truth does not imply that the decision to slaughter the entire male population of the city was God’s plan either. Of all 12 of the brothers – only Simeon and Levi chose to act out their personal revenge in violent ways. (Although all of them did partake in the plunder). It is debated by scholars as to whether Simeon and Levi were justified in their actions. In essence – they felt the principle overrides the incident.

What do you think? Would you have chosen as Simeon and Levi – to take the defense of their sister to that extreme – regardless of the collateral damage?

Clearly, Jacob was not in agreement with the two sons – as he is angry with them (and not the other 10). In fact, in Chapter 49 we shall hear Jacob speak more of this on his deathbed.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Genesis 30

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Amazing that we are only 30 chapters into this beautiful story, and we can see mistakes and errors riddling the path of humanity and interfering with the Blessing. But even more amazing is the fact that the covenant Promise which God made with Abraham back in Chapter 12-13 is still in effect in the lives of those who walk in it. For Abraham’s sake – Issac was blessed, and that same Blessing Promise was passed on to his sons – Esau & Jacob. But, as time goes on and people move further away from that initial Promise… they forget God and what He said. Esau already possessed the Blessing of Abraham – yet he cared so little about it that he sold it to his brother for a bowl of stew (Chapter 27). As well, Jacob already possessed the Blessing of Abraham – yet he failed to realize that and instead used deception to gain what was already his! As we shall see – these steps of disobedience brought many struggles and heartache.

When we read Chapter 30 it can be natural to raise an eyebrow at the unique circumstances of bearing children. But we must remember that we are looking at people who lived 5000 or so years ago – within a different culture and mindset. So while the circumstances surrounding the birthing of Jacob’s 12 sons was definitely weird – the continuing work of the Blessing in his life isn’t.

Jacob has agreed to work for 7 years for his Uncle Laban in order to secure Rachel as his wife. But Laban is less than honest in his dealings with Jacob – and deceives him into marrying Leah first. (See how the way Jacob dealt with Esau and Issac has now come back upon himself?). In the end Jacob works 14 years for his two wives – Leah and Rachel.

Then when it comes time for Jacob to take his family and leave – his fourteen years being completed – we are given a glimpse into what life was like for Jacob (and Laban). In Genesis 30:27 Laban is clearly upset that Jacob wants to leave him because he has “learned by experience that the Lord has favored me with blessings on your account”. Jacob goes on to acknowledge that Laban has “increased and multiplied abundantly” (vs 30). (Remember what the Blessing is?… Be Fruitful and Multiply). So instead of inquiring as to WHY Jacob was blessed and increased wherever he went – instead Laban sought to try the same tricks Jacob had… deception and trickery.

In the end – our main lesson from this chapter is that we cannot use the “wisdom” of man to walk in the Blessing of the Lord. Jacob was in the process of learning this – yet Laban had not. So when Laban separated the strong parts of the flock and tried to only give Jacob the weak – the Lord gave Jacob insight into how to strengthen the weak flock into the strong. So the Deceiver (Jacob) was learning how to walk in a trusting relationship with the Lord instead of trying to manipulate. In the end – Jacob had increased because of the Blessing working in his life… not because of his own cunning or logic.

What lesson does that speak to you and I today in our world?

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Genesis 26-27

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Obedience & Favor. Those two words sum up these two chapters in Genesis. Abraham has died – and now Issac is positioned to carry on The Blessing that the Lord promised to his father. The covenant that God cut with Abraham is in effect for Issac as well.

But there is a famine in the land.

Genesis 26:1 says that the famine was not the famine spoken of in chapter 12 – but a new, severe famine. (The word famine means – among other things – “a severe shortage”). Then in verses 2-5 we see the Lord gives direction to his favored family, now led by Issac. As in all things – Issac had a choice. Obey God and continue to operate under the Blessing, or disobey Him and remove yourself from Favor. In verse 6 we are told of Issac’s decision; “So Issac stayed in Gerar.” (exactly like God told him to!).

Now Issac wasn’t perfect – he made the same sort of mistakes that his father made when he tried to protect himself under his own strength. This could have backfired – yet the Lord was gracious with him (like He was with Abraham). In the end, Issac obeyed the Lord – followed His instructions – and it was good for him. We see in verse 12 that he is reaping 100 times in harvest DURING A FAMINE! That is how it is with the Lord – obedience brings plenty, protection, provision in all things. Issac is just another example. In the middle of one of the worst famines the area had ever seen – this Kingdom Man – Issac actually increased.

If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God.” – Deut 28:1-2 (This hasn’t changed!).

But – as in obedience… disobedience will remove us from this place of Blessing as well! Notice what happens in chapter 27 of Genesis. Esau is the elder of Issac’s children – and therefore the rightful heir of a double portion of the estate then his younger brother Jacob. But Jacob listens to his mother and tricks Issac into blessing him with the Firstborn Blessing.

What was wrong here? Not only did Jacob deceive his father, he also stole from his brother. That is not how the Blessing works! This is the perfect example of “making the weak arm of flesh your strength” (Jer. 17:5). Jacob made the choice to listen to his mother and attempt to gain the Blessing by his own strength, power and cunning instead of trusting in the Lord to provide for him.

What was the result of this? As we shall see, because of Jacob’s decision – he will be at odds with his brother Esau for many years. This family feud would go on to cost countless lives throughout succeeding centuries. The descendants of Esau (the Amalekites) would grow to become ruthless enemies of Israel – as well it would be the Edomites who would be instrumental in not only attempting to break the family line of Jesus by almost killing King David (1 Sam 21-22) – but again trying the same thing through king Herod and his edict against the 2-yr old boys at the time of Jesus. (Matt 2:16).

Obedience brings Blessing. But when we choose instead to disobey the Lord and try to achieve the Blessing on our own strength we only create more problems – many more problems – which can affect those who come generations after us.

Choose Obedience – and you will increase even in the midst of a famine!

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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